Reducing poverty in Bolivia comes down to two words: rural development
July 6, 2013
- In 2013's International Year of Quinoa, Bolivia is working to promote Andean products.
- Food security is at the center of a framework agreement signed today between the World Bank and the Government of Bolivia.
- President Kim and Bolivia's Evo Morales played soccer in Cochabamba.
Cochabamba, Bolivia – It looks like just another busy Saturday afternoon in Cliza, a farming village 37 kilometres south of Cochabamba: local small farmers offer the colorful fruits from the pachamama, or sacred highlands soil, to hundreds of patrons.
Today was different, though. Cliza’s farmers market catered to two special ‘customers’: World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, who signed right there a memorandum of understanding for the sustainable production of quinoa --the Andean super food increasingly growing its global market share-- and other ancestral food products, which are the foundation for production systems in the Bolivian Altiplano.
Dozens of proud farmers exhibited their products: tropical fruits, such as custard apples, berries, bananas, vegetables, coffee, but also quinoa and dried llama meat, staples of their diets and incomes.
Food security is a priority in Bolivia and plays a key role in fighting poverty and in promoting opportunities for all. And, experts say, the most effective step to guarantee such security is by supporting thousands of small farmers and their access to markets.
“Economic development that doesn’t benefit all engenders injustice and frustration. Regardless of their race, gender, place of birth, or social origin, people should have the same opportunities to build a good future with dignity," said Kim.
Saturday’s signing ceremony underscored the importance of fostering economic opportunity in rural Bolivia as part of a growing partnership with the country’s own farmers and decision makers.
President Morales welcomed this approach.
"The President of the World Bank does not come here to give us recipes but to support our own recipes and policies, our programs developed by our ministries. The World Bank does not blackmail, or impose conditions, not anymore," Morales said.
Earlier, Kim joined Morales in a ribbon cutting for a new sports facility serving Oruro’s Uru-Chipayas. As part of the ceremony, Kim and Morales played a friendly soccer match wearing Bolivia’s national team jersey.
The President of the World Bank does not come here to give us recipes but to support our own recipes and policies, our programs developed by our ministries. The World Bank does not blackmail, or impose conditions, not anymore.
A matter of survival
The colorful quinoa fields embellish the already majestic Bolivian high plains, but their mere existence is not enough to ensure food security for Bolivia’s farmers. Traditional foods of the high Andes such as quinoa, sweet potato, potato, cañawa, oca or tarwi are a key part of the country’s cultural heritage. More importantly, they can mean survival for thousands of families.
Since 2005, the World Bank’s Rural Partnerships Project (PAR) has worked to improve access of organized small-scale producers to markets through productive partnerships with buyers in an effort to guarantee their sustainability.
In view of the good results so far, an upcoming extension of the project (PAR II), will benefit 35,000 additional families.
Bolivia has more rural partnerships than any other Latin American country, with approximately 800 productive partnerships and 30,000 beneficiary families to date.
“In the past, the farmers immigrated to other countries, like Spain or Argentina, but when PAR was established we could built good, high quality flower nurseries thanks to the investment and technical assistance. Now we have more income for our families and we even provide employment”, said Marcelino Cervantes, from the association of organic flowers producers of Bella Vista.
With his visit to Bolivia, Kim concludes a week-long tour that took him to three South American countries, including Peru and Chile.